Game Scout: Raiders at Texans

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Oakland Raiders (3-6) at Houston Texans (2-7)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Reliant Stadium, Houston - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
*Keys to the game: Perhaps an emotional surge from the return of coach Gary Kubiak to the sideline can benefit the Texans, who haven't won a game since Sept 15. A breakable defense and up-and-down running game have hampered the Houston offense in consecutive three-point defeats. QB Case Keenum hasn't turned the ball over and established with confidence that he'll get the ball downfield. WR Andre Johnson is in the midst of a revival with Keenum at the helm, catching five touchdown passes over the past two games. If Keenum takes what the Raiders give him defensively -- patiently taking the intermediate read early in the game -- he can hit the home-run ball. Quarterbacks have a combined 67.6 completion percentage with 18 touchdowns against the Raiders. Mobile QB Terrelle Pryor has gone a month without a touchdown pass. Not being able to run was a major limitation last week for a Raiders offense with few playmakers. If Pryor is unable to play with a right knee injury, Matt McGloin, signed as a rookie free agent out of Penn State in April, will be under siege behind an ever-shuffling front wall of the Raiders.
*Matchup to watch - Texans P Shane Lechler vs. Raiders P Marquette King -- Field position is huge to a Raiders team that is struggling to score, and few people are better at controlling it than Lechler, who had a 58.7-yard average last week and is driven to beat the Raiders, who didn't want him back after a long career in Oakland. King got his first punt blocked for a touchdown last week.
*Player spotlight - Raiders RT Tony Pashos: He returned to practice after missing four games with a hip injury, and with sufficient progress could be in line to play against Houston. That means he would draw All-Pro DL J.J. Watt, who could turn Pashos into a welcome mat.
*Fast facts: The Raiders lead the NFL with an average of 143.2 rushing yards per game. ... Keenum is the first undrafted quarterback with back-to-back three-touchdown games since 1960 (Butch Songin).
If Terrelle Pryor can't play, the advantage shifts heavily to Houston in what would be a battle of undrafted quarterbacks. Either way, the edge is to the Texans at home behind an offense getting into a rhythm.
*Our pick: Texans 26-13

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